9.24.18. 21.4 detour miles. 0.3 PCT miles. 21.7 total miles.
It was so cold last night. Definitely the coldest night on trail so far. I kept my filter in a ziplock bag in the foot box of my quilt to make sure it didn’t freeze. I woke up before 5 am needing to go to the bathroom (at least it was a pit toilet again!), and got right back into my quilt when I got back. I slept in until 6:20ish before getting ready. I packed up, walked back to the guard house and threw my trash out in the bin they let hikers use, and then continue up the gravel road to start the fire detour.
It had been very tempting to ignore the fire closure and just hike the PCT. I met a couple of backpackers doing a loop yesterday and they hiked south through the closure and said the fire was never on the trail. The trail angels I met last night said that they talked to hikers who did the border tag and were coming back to Hart’s Pass, and they hiked through the closure as well. I guess I’m just too moral of a person to outright disobey a federal mandate, so I hiked the detour route, more miles and less scenic than the PCT.
It was all uphill on the road to the trailhead, and there was snow and ice covering the ground and plants. It was also very cold and pretty windy once I reached the trailhead. I had to climb just a little bit more and then the trail descended down from Slate Pass into meadows and woods that were not icy, but very, very muddy. Not only that, but it was apparent a whole herd of horses & mules had recently walked this whole trail, and they had just torn up the trail with the mud. It was terrible and so difficult to walk and just so, so muddy.
The trail wasn’t very scenic at all, and I was kind of bummed out that my last full day on trail was on a non-scenic detour that wasn’t even the PCT. I ate lunch around 1, having done around 13ish miles. I ate my last Stehekin cinnamon roll and a packet of ramen. What a classic lunch combo. After lunch, the trail undulated a bit and then started climbing after crossing a few forks of the Pasayten River.
This part of the day was a bit prettier, with some meadow interspersed with forest and aspen trees, but a lot of the trail was overgrown and the tiny spiky branches of bushes whipped against my legs as I walked by, sometimes drawing blood. About halfway through this last trail, the climb got steeper, but that meant it was almost time to get back to the PCT!
Finally, I was back on trail and had some nice views! I wanted to get further today so that my last day would be easier, but it was almost 6 pm when I got to the tentsites at Woody Pass, and the next spot wasn’t for another 5 miles, and I really just wanted to relax at camp instead of hike into the night. I camped with Double Down and we talked about the trail, marveling at how tonight is our last night of the whole hike. The last campsite. The last dinner. After some reminiscing, it’s like the universe knew it needed to throw something in there for the last night and I saw a mouse climb up my trekking pole that supports my tent! I smacked the pole and the mouse flew off. Of course, on my last night on trail, I’d see a mouse actively trying to get at my food. I placed my food bag outside of my tent. I don’t care if a mouse chews a hole in that, but I’d be sad if it chewed a hole in my tent on the last night!
I still can’t believe this is my last night on trail. I spent so much time before the trail and on trail thinking about what tomorrow would be like. How I’d be feeling, what it would be like, how it would feel to finally see the northern terminus. I’ve seen so many pictures of it, I wonder if it will even feel real when I get there. It’s just so crazy to think this is finally happening and it’s all coming to an end. To be completely honest, I always knew I could finish this, but I never wanted to get my hopes set too high in case something out of my control prevented me from finishing. Or worse, letting fears and doubts - things completely in my control - overtake me and prevent me from finishing. But it’s actually happening now, and I still can’t believe it. Something I’ve dreamed about for a few years, something I’ve dreamed about more than anything else, will be coming to fruition tomorrow. I’m nervous and excited. And there will definitely be tears.